Bhardwaj, Willis Nominated For Honda Award

April 25, 2001

After leading their team to a second consecutive NCAA team title, UCLA co-captains, senior Mohini Bhardwaj (Cincinnati, OH) and sophomore Onnie Willis (Tacoma, WA), were selected as nominees for the 2000-2001 Honda Award for gymnastics. Other nominees are Bridget Knaeble of Michigan and Suzanne Sears of Georgia.

Bhardwaj was recently named the winner of the AAI American Award, honoring the nation's top senior gymnast. At the NCAA Championships, Bhardwaj won her second career individual title when she took home the floor exercise crown. She also tied for third in the all-around and fifth on the uneven bars and earned three first-team All-America honors. Bhardwaj inked her name in UCLA's record books by scoring a 39.975 in the all-around, which was the second-highest all-around score ever recorded in NCAA history. The 11-time All-American reached perfection several times this year, setting school marks for most 10s in a season (eight), most career perfect 10s (eight), and most 10s in a meet (three). She swept through the post-season honors, winning Pac-10 and West Region Gymnast of the Year honors, in addition to the American Award. Bhardwaj also won the all-around titles at the conference and regional meets and led UCLA with 23 individual victories. She ends her career at UCLA with four NCAA titles - two team and two individual.

Willis became UCLA's first-ever NCAA all-around champion when she tied Elise Ray of Michigan with a 39.525 at the NCAA Championships. Willis was one of just two athletes at this year's championship to earn the maximum five All-America honors, she was a first-team selection in the all-around, bars, beam and floor and a second-team pick on vault. In addition to her all-around win, Willis was runner-up on the uneven bars, placed sixth on floor and 11th on beam. The eight-time All-American scored two perfect 10s this year, one each on vault and floor. Willis was successful in the classroom as well, earning second-team Verizon Academic All-District VIII honors, as well as Pac-10 All-Academic acclaim. In just two years, she has won three NCAA titles- two team and one individual.

The Honda Award annually recognizes the top female collegiate athlete in each of 11 sports. The Honda Award winners are then candidates for the Honda-Broderick Cup, which recognizes the outstanding Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year. UCLA has had two Honda Award recipients for gymnastics - Sharon Shapiro in 1980-81 and Jill Andrews in 1989-90.

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